TEHRAN: Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards yesterday said its forces shot down an Israeli drone as it approached an Iranian nuclear site, recovering major parts of what it described as an advanced aircraft.
The incident comes as Iran negotiates with world powers over its nuclear programme and hard-liners press moderate President Hassan Rouhani to demand more concessions before limiting its atomic capabilities.
Israel has not ruled out taking military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities if its capability to build an atomic weapon progresses.
The Guards, in a statement on its website, said its forces fired a missile at the drone as it neared its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, 240km south of Tehran. It did not say when it shot down the drone.
Guards spokesman General Ramazan Sharif later said that officials believed it to be a “new generation” drone used by Israel.
“Major parts of the devices of the drone are intact and have been received by our friends that can be used for further information,” Sharif said.
Sharif did not say when the aircraft was shot down, but said it was “identified upon arrival in Iranian airspace.” He said authorities allowed it to fly for a short time to determine its destination.
Legislator Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of an influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told a news website associated with Iran’s armed forces that the “point of departure” for the drone should be determined, suggesting it likely flew in from one of Iran’s neighbours.